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Lowell High School's Newspaper of Record

The LHS Review

International journalist raises student awareness

Gets LHS thinking about consumer's role in human exploitation

Photo by Stephane Silva

Photo by Stephane Silva

Jessica Archila, Staff Contributor

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By Jessica Archila

People tend to be blissfully unaware of how severe some global issues are because they don’t know the facts. But there are activists out there who are proudly trying to get people engaged in social issues that need paying attention too by America.  

In the Little Theatre LHS on April 26, students heard some uncomfortable stories from one such activist about how the American economy supports human exploitation.

Noy Thrupkaew, an international journalist and Greeley Peace Scholar at UML, came to Lowell High School and talked to various high school classes about various global issues. She passionately talked about human trafficking and labor exploitation. There were five different stories that she presented about these issues. The stories she shared were told in the time order of when they happened. From the mill times to recent times even involving Ivanka Trump’s clothing line.

If [you] choose to live in a pretend world where they overlook these issues then there will never be a change.  For there to be change regarding dangerous behavior in human trafficking and work exploitation, then people need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, said Ms. Thrupkaew, the UML Greeley Peace Scholar.

Photo by Stephane Silva

Ms. Thrupkaew specified that human trafficking is not just an act focused around sexual slavery, although this is a large part of the issue in the trafficking world.  It’s also about the trading of humans for other purposes. Whatever the reason, whether it’s for forced labor or sexual exploitation, it is still happening. It’s happening around us and we don’t even realize it. Ms. Thrupkaew emphasized the fact that human trafficking is often talked about happening in far away places and cities like Thailand or Brazil. But that is just not the case, it is happening in cities and towns all over the world even the U.S.

Ms. Thrupkaew encouraged the LHS students to do an activity in which the students checked the tags of their shirts to examine the “Made in” tags.   After this activity the students all shared where they were made, China, Vietnam, Indonesia, etc. The students noticed they were all made in counties other than the U.S..

Ms. Thrupkaew then proceeded to tell us why they were made in those counties. She says it’s due to   “modern day slavery”.   Such slavery is an issue that affects the lives of those who work picking the fields from the crack of dawn to the late evening in some countries and also the lives of those working 60 hours a week in factories to produce clothing for the West. We tend not to think about how or where we receive our simple everyday items. The clothes on our very backs are sewn by the overworked people in China and other countries. The fruits and vegetables that line the grocery stores were hand picked and cut by the back breaking labor of poor immigrants.

The tiring labor these people endure is in no way worth the amount of money they get paid, said Ms. Thrupkaew. The wage they receive is barely enough to keep them alive. This is the type of modern day slavery most people are deaf too, she continued.

Thrupkaew explained these important issues to high school students with the hope of forming their conscience when it comes to human trafficking and work exploitation. While she talked and the students listened, she wasn’t just talking for the sake of it, but teaching the students about how common and dangerous these issues are.  And how, as consumers, people make decisions about which products they purchase.

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Lowell High School's Newspaper of Record
International journalist raises student awareness